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Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

Four of the most plaintive words in the modern New Zealand lexicon must surely be “would we be allowed”? I was reminded of this recently by my new friend, Bill Hohepa (Billy Ho), who has the biggest heart in the world and goes around rest homes offering to take the oldies out fishing. “But would we be allowed?” they always ask. But when they get to the wharf with line and bait they’re happy as sand boys.

Here’s another example, sent in by a reader last week: “I wish to report from a workshop which a friend of mine who is a nurse attended recently for medical practices. They learned about the Privacy Act and one of the items they were reminded of was ‘that it is not permitted that the staff at a medical practice ask a patient if they had a good holiday even if they know all about it’. Apparently this is a breach of the patient’s privacy. I gathered that there are several subjects they are not permitted to ask the patients and must only focus on their health. Good grief. I wonder if it is permitted to ask, ‘how are you’?

Everything is verboten (and I’ll probably get into trouble for ridiculing the German language). Poking fun is verboten. Risk is verboten. Objectors oppose wind farms because they think the windmills might damage their health. Yes, just like cellphone towers, bedside clock radios, microwave ovens and fluorescent lighting (I once worked with a highly respected journalist who seriously thought the overhead fluorescent lighting was damaging. Come to think of it, given his erratic behaviour, perhaps he was right after all.).

Seriously though, isn’t it time to bring back personal responsibility? This nation used to believe in the ethic that if decisions you make don’t turn out to be profitable, or bring you unhappiness, then you have to take the rap for that. We’re legislating that away. This week new laws came in which mean gambling machines must have a pop-up something that tells the gambler how long he or she’s been at it. Right, like that’s going to make a difference to someone who’s already gambled the housekeeping away. But it’s not their fault, it’s the nasty machines, owned by the unscrupulous multi-nationals, so the Gummint has to do something.

New Zealand’s pioneering, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit is going to hell in a handcart. Half the population’s got a bad back and the other half’s working like navvies to support them. If I wasn’t leaving the House of Twisted Faces I’d seriously consider resurrecting the Pull Yourself Together Party. But I suppose that’s not allowed. Gary McCormick where are you when we need you?

Yours in liberty,

Deborah Coddington

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